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Pupils face tracking bugs in school blazers

London Guardian | August 22, 2007
James Meikle

A school uniform maker said yesterday it was "seriously considering" adding tracking devices to its clothes after a survey found many parents would be interested in knowing where their offspring were.
Trutex would not say whether it was studying a spy in the waistband or a bug in the blazer but admitted teenagers were less keen than younger children on the "big brother" idea.

The Lancashire company, which sells 1m blouses, 1.1m shirts, 250,000 pairs of trousers, 200,000 blazers, 60,000 skirts and 110,000 pieces of knitwear each year, commissioned an online survey for 809 parents and 444 children aged between nine and 16. It said 44% of the adults were worried about the safety of pre-teen children and 59% would be interested in satellite tracking systems being incorporated in schoolwear. While nearly four in 10 pupils aged 12 and under were prepared to go along with the idea, teenagers were more wary of "spying".

Clare Rix, the marketing director, said: "As well as being a safety net for parents, there could be real benefits for schools who could keep a closer track on the whereabouts of their pupils, potentially reducing truancy levels.'

The announcement follows news that an Essex firm, BladeRunner, used Kevlar, a synthetic fibre used in body armour, to line school uniforms sent in by parents anxious about knife culture. Barry Samms, a director, said the company was concentrating on its line of stab-proof hooded tops, having sold about 1,500 of the £65 garment, mainly to over-30s, since launch earlier this year. The company was now selling £120 tops to walkers and mountain-bikers worried about barbed-wire snags.

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